MAGAZINE FEATURE

Toolkit for "The New Sex Ed"

This toolkit for "The New Sex Ed" will help you assess the current state of sex education in your school and plan for ways to create a broader, more inclusive approach to teaching about sexuality. 

Introduction

Whether change is needed in your school, your district or in the state, you can be a powerful advocate for comprehensive sexuality education. Use these sources to learn more about sexuality education in your state, district and school. (Remember, private schools that aren’t bound to state regulations can still benefit greatly from following the Future of Sex Educaiton's (FoSE) National Sexuality Education Standards.) 

 

Essential Questions

  1. What are my state and district-level sex and HIV education policies?
  2. What specific content does my school cover in its sex and HIV education?
  3. Is my school’s approach to sex education comprehensive? Does it meet my students’ needs?

 

Procedure

Use the following online resources and questions that follow to learn more about sexuality education in your state, district and school.

State Policies in Brief: Sex and HIV Education (Guttmacher Institute)

State Policies on Sex Education in Schools (National Conference of State Legislatures)

National Sexuality Education Standards (FoSE) 

 

Get to know your state.

  1. Does your state require sex education? If yes, is your district or school meeting state requirements? If no, is your school or district providing sex education anyway?
  1. Does your state require HIV education? If yes, is your district or school meeting the state’s requirements? If no, is your school or district providing HIV education anyway?

 

Respond yes or no to the next set of statements.

  1. When sex or HIV education is provided, your state requires that it …
  • be medically accurate.
  • be age appropriate.
  • be culturally appropriate and unbiased.
  • not promote religion.
  1. When sex or HIV education is provided, your state requires that parents …
  • be notified.
  • give consent.
  • be able to opt-out.
  1. When sex or HIV education is provided, your state requires the inclusion of information about…
  • contraception.
  • abstinence.
  • the importance of sex within marriage.
  • sexual orientation.
  • the negative outcomes of teen sex.
  • avoiding coercion.
  • healthy decision-making.
  • condoms.

 

Next, reflect on where your school’s practices are in relation to your state’s requirements.

  1. Overall, how well do your school’s sex and HIV education practices match up with your state’s requirements?
  1. Review FoSE’s National Sexuality Education Standards. Focus on a grade level that you work with. Which standards does your school’s sex and HIV education cover? Which standards does your school not cover?
  1. Overall, how well do your school’s sex and HIV education practices align with the National Sexuality Education Standards?

 

Lastly, make a plan.

In what areas is there room for a more comprehensive approach to sexuality education at your school? Make a plan with your colleagues to advocate for improvements in those areas. Be sure to draw on these strategies in your plan:

  • Partner with community organizations—They often have more resources and may have also identified gaps in your school and district policies.
  • Include student voices—Education is there to serve students, which makes their voices powerful. Encourage students to advocate for their own education, and you’ll have strong allies throughout the process.
  • Attend school board or community meetings—Identify a champion and possible opposition. And don’t forget to clearly indicate if you’re there in an official capacity (with permission from your school) or as a private citizen.
  • Push boundaries—If your school board can’t make changes due to state legislation, encourage it to pass a resolution calling for improved sex education. The resolution can help state-level advocates push for legislative change.

Source: Jesseca Boyer, Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS)